British Heart Foundation Urges MEPs to Reform Food Labeling
British Heart Foundation Chief Executive Peter Hollins has penned an article in the April 2010 issue of Parliament Magazine that urges members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to undertake more stringent reform of food labeling laws. “To improve diets across Europe, the European Heart Network (EHN) advocates for clear and consistent labels on all foods that will help European consumers understand the nutritional content of the food they are buying,” writes Hollins in support of mandatory nutrition facts as well as front-of-pack traffic light systems.
Hollins claims that the guideline daily amounts (GDAs) favored by the food and beverage industry do not provide “an interpretation of relative healthiness in the quick and simple way that consumer surveys repeatedly show traffic light colors do.” He specifically claims that “the strongest front of pack label is one combining traffic light colors, use of the words ‘high ‘medium’, and ‘low’, and GDAs.” This system, according to Hollins, could also improve nutritional understanding “among lower socio-demographic groups” and help tackle “health inequalities across Europe.”
The editorial ultimately calls on MEPs to put the traffic light system back on the table when they vote next month on the measure. “Clear and consistent food labeling underpinned by traffic light colors is an important part of securing the right environment to make healthier, easier choices,” opines Hollins. “Not getting it right means we miss a unique opportunity to help address not only the obesity epidemic but also the heavy burden of diet-related chronic non-communicable diseases across Europe.”